Credit: CASC

The orbiter of China’s Chang’e-5 lunar sample return mission has been maneuvered into a halo orbit around the Sun-Earth Lagrangian point 1 (L1). It has become China’s first spacecraft in that orbit with an orbital cycle taking about six months.

Chang’e-5’s orbiter/returner craft, following delivery to Earth of return sample capsule, is on extended mission.
Credit: CNSA

Guided into place by the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC), the L1 point lies between the Sun and Earth. At this point, the force of gravity is roughly equal in all directions, so it’s easier for spacecraft to maintain a relatively stable operating state with less fuel required, explains China Central Television (CCTV).

The Chang’e-5 orbiter separated from the lunar sample returner craft on December 17, 2020. It then entered a long-term management stage on December 21.

It carried out two orbital maneuvers and two midway corrections under BACC control before reaching the L1 point.

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